It was a hot summer day of work when I headed outside to load bags of mulch into a customer’s car. I work at a hardware store and so it is a common occurance for me to assist customers in lifting heavy bags into the trunks of their cars. I made my way over to the middle-aged man standing beside the bags of mulch and gave him a friendly greeting. As I began to lift the first bag into his car, he stopped me and said “No, don’t lift the bags for me, I can do it myself.. I was expecting a strong young man to come out and help me.” Often times, at the hardware store, I get told that I cannot do things because I am a woman. Women are held back and told that they are not as good as men in the workplace because of their gender. It is a problem not just at a local hardware store, but across the country.
In the United States, women and men are not given equality, which is shown through society’s mindset in the way women are treated as less in the workplace. Women do not get paid as much as men, even if they have the same job. If a woman and a man disagree on something, the man is more likely to be listened to because he is a man. Women are even held back from completing tasks or achieving things at work because they are women and people believe it is not something a woman is capable of.
Women are not getting paid the same as men which is an obvious sign that there is a problem between the genders. According to the most recent study in 2015 that was conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women make only seventy-nine cents to every dollar made by men. (IWPResearch, Pay). Additionally, the median pay for females is lower than that of the males in almost every occupation (IWPResearch, The). But for what reason? Women have the capability, and the intelligence to excel at the same jobs that men do. And women do achieve great accomplishments in the workplace. But they do not get paid the same for it. Gender should not play a role in the amount people get compensated for their time and pay. Yet, time after time, women have to fight to get the same amount of pay as a man, and still come up short of gender pay equality. Equal pay should not be something women have to constantly argue for. It should be based on performance, but because of society’s mindset, women are restricted to what they can and cannot achieve in the workplace. Society sees women as weaker and therefore unfit to be paid the same as a strong man, when in reality women are as strong and powerful as men in the workplace. I’ve heard stories of women that have had to ask on multiple occasions to receive the same wage as their male equivalents. That is not how it should be done. It should not have to be an issue. Pay and gender are two separate entities that should not affect one another.
Some may argue that men have a higher average pay than women because men hold more upper management jobs than women. And they do. According to Pathways to Equity, only eleven percent of all workers in middle-skilled jobs (which pay at least 35,000 dollars a year) are women, which is a problem in itself (IWPResearch, Pathways). Women are being held back from these management positions because of society’s mindset that believes a man will be more fit, solely due to the fact he is a man. It does not change the fact that even if a man and a women had the same job, and same qualifications for that job, the man would still have a higher salary. For example, according to a study done by the Institute for Women’s Policy, a male software engineer will make an average of 1,751 dollars per week, while their female equivalent will earn an average of 1,415 dollars per week (IWPResearch, The). This gap of pay between men and women continues across over a hundred occupations. The only difference between the two employees in an occupation is their gender, and gender by no means affects the work performance. If anything, it allows for more variety and creativity in the workplace, therefore making it more efficient. When the only differing factors between two employees is their genders, it should not relate to a difference in pay. The difference in pay between men and women in the workplace is something that needs to be eradicated, and it starts with a change in society’s mindset.
Often in the workplace, men are trusted over women because they are a man. I work with a brilliant woman who knows everything there is to know about household plumbing. She had told me this story about how one time she was aiding a customer in finding the right part needed to fix their sink. She insisted on using a certain part, and with years of experience in the field, there was no question that she was right. But, at that moment, a nearby coworker with little to no experience with this job voiced his opinion that it could be another part. The gentlemen being helped walked out of the store with the incorrect part that the new male employee had suggested. The customer trusted the male employee over the female employee, even when the female employee was higher educated in the field. Not only did the female employee have many years of experience in this particular field compared to the male employee, but she had confidently found a part for the gentleman, whereas the male employee merely suggested an alternate part. It is clear that in that situation, the female employee had more background and was more fit for helping the customer. Yet consistently in our country, women will be overlooked and ignored, because of the mindset of the people. People instinctively trust men over women because that is the way it has been done for years. But in doing that our country is losing out on new ideas, different perspectives, and a happier, more gender equal workplace.
I was held back from doing my job proficiently that day the customer would not let me assist him. When I headed back inside the store and had to explain to my boss why I left the customer with no help, I felt embarrassed. I felt embarrassed that the customer had deemed me incapable, and I was angry that people are deciding my limitations based on my gender. My boss did not understand how a man that had previously requested help loading bags would rather do it himself than let a fully capable woman employee assist him. And there is nothing to understand. I had no physical limitations; the only thing stopping me from assisting the man in lifting the mulch was the man’s mindset. He saw me as incapable because of my gender. The problem between gender lies in our mindset. Society believes that a woman cannot lift a bag of mulch like a man can, or cannot possibly know more about plumbing than a man. In reality, it is something women can, and do accomplish. The sooner society realizes the power of women, the sooner equality will fall into place.
IWPResearch. The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2015. Rep. N.p.: Institute for Women's Policy Research, n.d. Apr. 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.
IWPResearch. "Pay Equity & Discrimination." — IWPR. Institute for Women's Policy Research, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016. <http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination>.
IWPResearch. "Pathways to Equity - Women and Good Jobs." Pathways to Equity. Institute for Women's Policy Research, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016. <http://womenandgoodjobs.org/>.